August 31st marks the 50th Anniversary of Malaysia's Independence this year. To be exact, this year marks the 50th Anniversary of Independence from British Colonial Rule in 1957 for Malaya and not Malaysia. Malaysia is composed of West and East Malaysia which are separated by the sea. Malaya refers to West Malaysia and the Malay Peninsula and this was the area which first got independence from British rule. East Malaysia followed in the 1960s and Malaysia was created in 1963 (which then incorporated Singapore which left the union in 1965). Thus, to be precise, the country now known as 'Malaysia' did not exist until 1963...but of course, the government now has to promote unity and it is just easier to make independence day 1957 then 1963. Besides, West Malaysia has always been the centre of attention and where all the major cities and tourist spots are as well as where the majority of the population of Malaysia resides.
Anyways, enough of history.....as they say, migrants and people who reside overseas become more traditional and patriotic as opposed to people who remain in their own countries. I think this is certainly true for me. Having left Malaysia and come to live in Australia (first Melbourne then Sydney) for the past 6 years plus I have grown to become more proud of being a Malaysian. I always look forward to returning for a holiday and really enjoy the place. people, and most importantly, the food!!!!! More importantly, everything is so much cheaper bck there than compared with Aus and the quality is the same! You actually get the same stuff for a much cheaper price in Malaysia which is why i tend to buy all my clothes there and other stuff.
Many Malaysians who are here whom have not been here for long (or those whom belong to the lower social strata in Malaysia and migrate to Australia for a higher income) always complain about the government, how crappy Malaysia's transportation, school system,etc is and the Chinese-Malaysians ALWAYS, and i mean ALWAYS complain about the racist nature of the government and its policies towards the Chinese minority is. I don't know, I always felt that your country is still your country and just because it has faults and flaws doesn't mean we shouldn't still love or feel patriotism towards our country. I mean we should look at Malaysia and feel grateful about many things. (ok i am aware that given my background and the fact that i am away from Malaysia MOST of the year and residing in a developed country i may not be qualified to say much on this issue..but hey i am still a Malaysian k so this is my 2 cents on it)
Things to feel grateful about Malaysia when we are complaining about how backwards Malaysia is:
1) Many people, incl Malaysians, may be unaware of this BUT out of the over 200 yes TWO HUNDRED NATIONS in the world, Malaysia's economy is within the top 30 economies. Now, this means that if we think Malaysia is a backwards country, there are over 170 other countries which are below Malaysia in terms of economic development!!!! 170 mind you!!!
2) Malaysia is the SECOND most developed nation in SouthEast Asia, only after Singapore, which is essentially a city-state and not your average sized nation. This means we are ahead of Thailand (yes ahead of world-famous tourist spot Thailand even tho i must admit Bangkok is like waaaaaaaaay more developed than Kuala Lumpur), the Phillipines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia,etc..you get the picture.
3) Malaysia is the only country where there are three main races within society and is truly multicultural (even though the government tries very hard to only promote the Malay majority's culture in its tourism and other policies). Singapore is similar as well but once again Singapore is more a city than your normal country and so you cannot really compare it with Malaysia. Further, Malaysia is definitely more fun as a tourist destination given the EXTREMELY small size of the entire Singapore state which is only 20km from north to south i heard which is VERY VERY small. This means it does not have any natural areas like Malaysia's Mount Kinabalu and rainforest in Sabah and Sarawak or our various island resorts like Langkawi or Penang. Singapore really only has shopping and errr..more shopping? We have all the usual brands in Kuala Lumpur as well so there is no need to go to Singapore (ok so maybe our prices and range of choice is more limited).
4) Malaysia's minority races can often speak more than one language which is rare for any other country either within Asia or otherwise. And often three or four. The Chinese can usually speak English and Malay and Mandarin and a Chinese dialect like Cantonese or Hokkien. The Indians can usually speak English and Malay and an Indian dialect like Tamil or Urdu. The Malays will usually know Malay and English.
5) Malaysia has the Twin Towers which is like one of the most amazing architectural feats of the 20th Century. I have been to both the Jingmao World Trade Centre in Shanghai and the Taipei 101 Building in Taipei and, for me at least, i definitely think that the Twin Towers is far superior than the other two towers. It is just an amazing sight and stands out much more because of its steel frame...i personally thought the Taipei 101 was a big let-down and pretty unimpressive and the Shanghai Tower was also just not as bright at night as our Twin Towers.
Anyways, I think on the 50th Independence Anniversary, we, as Malaysians should take the time to ponder over what Malaysia has achieved in the last 50 years and learn to appreciate what we have attained instead of just whining and complaining all the time. Of cos, on this 50th year of Independence, it is also a timely opportunity to reflect on what still needs to be done, for instance the abolition of the official 'racial affirmative action policy' where the government actively discriminates in the interest of the majority Malays and discriminates against the Chinese and Indian minorities (eg quotas are in place in all Malaysian universities which limit the number of Chinese and Indian students allowed in which means higher scores are required to get into the same course than compared to Malays. Civil service employment also has a preferential policy of accepting Malays. Licences for all kinds of businesses and government projects in Malaysia are given to the Malay-owned companies first irrespective of merit. The list goes on.)
Other areas with room for huge improvement would be investing more money in schools as the school system in Malaysia is seriously underfunded with poor decaying facilities and freedom of press as there is essentially no freedom of the press in Malaysia given the annual licencing system of all media in Malaysia whereby the government can revoke the licences of any particular media institution if it 'steps out of line'. There also needs to be more accountability in government than now where government officials are rarely prosecuted for corruption or nepotism despite all the talk of it in the media or by the government itself.
So...... after having reflected on some of the achievements as well as shortcomings of Malaysia on this 50thIndependence Day, I just wanted to say ' Happy 50th Birthday Malaysia!!!!!!"'
Nice (and only) Malay Song i Like:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSvxPWTIo60&mode=related&search (Belaian Jiwa-Caressing the Soul)